Homily for the Sunday of the Woman at the Well

Homily on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman; St. John 4:5-42.  What are we to learn about water that is more than water and the secret food that sustained Jesus?  Listen and find out!

Check out this episode!

Homily Notes:

We have some interesting things going on in today’s Gospel reading; things having to do with a kind of food that you don’t eat and a kind of water that is alive and that satisfies your thirst forever. There’s other stuff in there, and we’ve talked about them before, but today I want to draw some lessons out from this strange food and water that Jesus is talking about.

What is it that motivates us? What is it that we really need?

These aren’t just rhetorical questions, but ones that we need to take seriously. We have to watch what we do – especially the things we do that require sacrifice – and then we need to ask ourselves “why”. And we need to go deep.

And then, once we have figured out the motivations that really keep us going, we have to ask ourselves: is this really enough?

Is it putting food on the table? Making the rent or mortgage? If so, what is going to protect us from sloth once those basic needs are met? We need these things, but they can’t be all we live and work for.

Is it our health? Again, it’s not enough. After all, how will we respond once good health in unattainable? What will allow us to get up and get things done once we receive the details of our unavoidable demise?

Is it our happiness? This is also a trap. We aren’t meant to be happy all the time. Sometimes we need to be sad. Sometimes we need to be angry. If we can’t be who we are, if we are separated from our sense of our true self when we are in grief or in pain, then we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and the hell of despondency.

We need to have a motivation that is constant, that is meaningful, and that is something that can actually be done. Not just when the circumstances; our health, our economy, our world; are good, but every moment of every day.

Many of the details of our lives revolve around our bodies’ basic needs: food, water, shelter, health, companionship… and because of this, it is easy for the satisfaction of those needs to become our primary motivation. And once they are satisfied, we can slip into sloth or we can just ramp up the same motivation, seeking to satisfy ourselves with every more extravagant versions our needs: the best food and drink, bigger and better houses, olympian athleticism, the very best sorts of friends and lovers. Both our capacity for sloth on one hand, and our desire for more and better things are potentially insatiable, so these are very real possibilities – especially given the strength and structure of our consumer-driven economy.

But again, is this how we want to live? Is it enough?

With His words to the Samaritan Woman about living water and to His disciples about the secret food He keeps Him going, Jesus is trying to get us to go grow, to motivate ourselves with something even more real and necessary that food and water.

What is that thing?

The hint is in the words about food and water, but the lesson is in what He did.

He did the will of the one who sent Him. What is that will?

Again, look what He did. He connected with someone, and through that connection, He shared His life, He shared His love. He gave the Living Water. He gave of Himself so that she could become more of who she wanted to be; who she was called to be (the first evangelist and equal to the apostles!).

This was the meat that sustains Him, that motivates Him, that is the purpose of His life. And it sustained Him through hunger, through lack of water, through pain, through torture, and even through death.

It will do the same for us. We are called to live in connection with others so that we can send the living water of God’s grace through those connections. This will give us meaning in good times and bad, in sorrow and in joy, in health and in sickness.

Because it is done in the Lord Jesus Christ, it will even sustain us through death into an eternal life of blessedness.

Let’s drink deeply of the Living Water of God’s grace and eat the meat that is the life of love.

Let’s begin with our families, our friends, our fellow parishioners; and then on out throughout this community and the world, transforming enemies and strangers into friends and these and all our friends with us into evangelists and children of God.

This is the will of the One who made and sends us.